Remarks by the Presdent at Welfare to Work - Transportation Event (10/14/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE
                       Office of the Press Secretary
                            (Denver, Colorado)

For Immediate Release                        October 14, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                     Mi Casa Resource Center for Women
                             Denver, Colorado

11:55 A.M. MDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, come in a little closer.  If I'm going to stand
up here, I want you in the picture.  (Laughter.)   Let me, first of all,
thank Carmen Carillo for welcoming us here today.  I just had a wonderful
time upstairs.  I went up and talked to all the staff that were up there
and met with a lot of the young people who were there.  And we're working
on trying to educate kids, give young adults the training they need, help
young people avoid teen pregnancy and HIV infection.  I thought they were

     I just wanted to say -- I wanted to come here today, in part, because
of what you're doing here.  And those of you who are here, trying to
improve your lives represents everything I've tried to do as President.
I'm very proud of you and I love this place.  (Applause.)

     I want to thank the Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater, who
is, like me, from Arkansas.  We've worked together for almost 20 years now.
He was underage when I first enlisted his services.  (Laughter.)  And it
will be apparent in a moment why I asked him to come today and join us.

     And I want to thank Mayor and Mrs. Webb for their leadership.  And
thank you, Wilma, for your service in the administration.  Denver has
prospered under your leadership, done well and you've been a great partner
for the Clinton-Gore administration.  We've done a lot of things in Denver,
we even brought the leaders of the eight big industrial nations here to a
conference about five years ago.  My friendship with you and the work that
we've done with this city have meant a great deal to me, and I thank you so
much.  (Applause.)

     This is the first chance I've had in a couple days to make a public
statement, and I think it's appropriate in a way that I make a few remarks
about -- before I get into what I came to talk about today -- about the
troubles in the Middle East and the terrorist attack, which resulted in the
loss of many of our sailors.  I'm sure you've been following it.

     Some of those sailors are being brought home today, and they'll be
brought home over the next several days, both the wounded and those who
were killed, and we'll have a memorial service for them on Wednesday.  But
what I'd like to say to you
-- I don't know if in the local press there have been any profiles of them.
But a lot of those people who were killed came out of neighborhoods like
this.  Several Latinos; one young African American girl, only 19 years old,
just completed her Navy training.  Most of them we're trying to do with
their lives what you're trying to do with your lives.  And they wanted to
do it by serving their country in the United States Navy.

     And they were not over there on any hostile mission.  They were simply
patrolling and keeping the peace and stability of the region.  So I hope
you'll say a prayer for them and their families tonight.  This is a
difficult time for them.

     It's also very troubling in the region.  There was all the troubles
you've seen between the Israelis and the Palestinians, who were so close to
a peace agreement.  There was a hijacking today in the Middle East.  We
have no idea whether it's related to any of this or not, and we may not
know for a while.  But I'm going to leave, I'm going to the West Coast from
here, then I'm going to red-eye back to Washington and fly over there, to
Egypt, tomorrow in an attempt to try to help put things back together.  So
I hope we'll have your prayers on that, too.

     But I ask today you specifically think about those families that lost
their loved ones, because most of those folks were just trying to do what
you're trying to do, and serve their country.  They were wonderful people,
very young, so their families need all the support of the all the American

     Now, let me talk about what I think is the good news of what you're
doing and what I think we should be doing to help.  In 1992, when I ran for
President, I went to the American people with a very simple, but I think
profoundly important vision.  I said that I thought every person willing to
be a responsible citizen should have an opportunity to share in the
American dream.  And that I thought to achieve that we had to be a stronger
community.  We had to understand that we were going forward together and
that nobody should be left out or left behind.

     Well, it turns out most Americans agreed with that, and together the
country has made great strides.  You all know we've had the longest
economic expansion in the history of the United States.  We have the lowest
unemployment rate in 30 years.  When I became President, unemployment in
Colorado was 6.1 percent; it's 2.7 percent now.  Unemployment among African
Americans and Hispanics is the lowest ever measured.  And together we've
had over 22 million new jobs, almost 600,000 right here in Colorado.

     But we're also not just better off.  I think we're a better nation
because poverty is down, crime is down, teen pregnancy is down.  Last year
we even had a reduction in the number of people without health insurance,
for the first time in a dozen years, thanks to the Children's Health
Insurance Program.  And homeownership, test scores, high school graduation
rates and the college going rate, all those are up.

     So to paraphrase what Al Gore used to say in 1992, when everything
should be up, was down; everything that should be down, was up -- now the
things that should be up are up, and the things that should be down are
down, and we can be grateful for that.

     One of the most important things that would have been almost
unthinkable eight years ago is that the welfare rolls have been cut by more
than half nationwide.  Millions of parents have joined the work force.
Now, how did this happen?  Well, first, the strong economy helps, because
more workers were needed.

     Secondly, we changed the rules so that all able-bodied people who can
work, have to work.  But we obligated the federal government to enable them
to succeed as parents, as well as workers, by investing more in training,
more in child care and maintaining the guarantee of food and medical care
for children.  And it's working.

     But after all that, it also became necessary to have a system.  That's
what you have here, in Mi Casa.  It's this fabulous system.  You don't just
deal with one part of a person's problem.  People come here, families can
come here and be dealt with.  And if there weren't a place like this, even
with a strong economy, even with a better welfare reform law, what we've
tried to do would not have been nearly as successful.

     So all these innovative welfare to work partnerships between the
federal government and states and local governments are important.  And
also in the private sector -- we have 12,000 private companies who've
joined our Welfare to Work Partnership and committed to hire people from
the welfare rolls.  And they have -- these 12,000 companies, themselves,
some of them are as small as 40 and 50 employees, some of them have tens of
thousands -- but they have hired hundreds of thousands of people from the
welfare rolls.  By now, I can tell you, the retention rates are better than
other first hires in all those companies.  And they're doing very, very

     Denver has been a real leader here, thanks to Mayor Webb and people
like Carmen.  You offer education, employment, child care services in one
place; train potential workers in places like Mi Casa; support employers
who train new workers for themselves.  So the federal government -- where
are you -- (laughter) -- I asked Carmen on the way down here, I said, where
do you get the money to run this place?  And she said, well, we get some
money from the Department of Labor, we get money from the Welfare to Work

     But the point is, you've got to have some place where the people can
come and get what they really need.  And the places that are doing best are
places that have really put things together.  In Denver there's also an
effort to help fathers get jobs and pay child support and stay involved
with their children's lives.

     So here's the point I want to make and here's why I'm here.  While the
welfare rolls have dropped by more than 50 percent nationwide, which is
huge, in Denver the welfare rolls have dropped 90 percent -- 90 percent.
(Applause.)  Now, once that happens, you've got to focus on making sure the
people who get off welfare stay off and that hard-working families succeed.
And that's what is happening here now.

     But I came here today to talk about what more we can do to help more
people get off welfare and stay off.  And also to highlight the importance
of places like Mi Casa and how we need it everywhere in America.  Because
we can drive these rolls down even more if we have the kind of operations
you have here in Denver.  And that's where -- there are some more things we
need to do, too, and that's where Secretary Slater and I come in.

     One of the most important things in helping Americans move from
welfare to work is making sure they can get from where they live to where
the job is.  And this is still a huge problem nationwide.  Listen to this:
two-thirds of all the new jobs in America are being created in the suburbs.
But three-quarters of the Americans who are still on public assistance live
in inner cities or small, rural towns.  So you've got the jobs here in the
suburbs and the people in the inner cities or out here in the country

     And our public transportation networks simply have not kept up with
the changing patterns and the disconnect between living and working.  Now,
we can help some people move where the jobs are.  Under the leadership of
our HUD Secretary, Andrew Cuomo, we have been able to get a bipartisan
majority in Congress to go along with giving a lot of people who are
eligible for public housing, housing vouchers so they can go find whatever
is available.  Because, as all of you know, with the growth of the economy
there is a real housing shortage -- there is a huge public housing
shortage.  So housing vouchers have made a difference.

     I think we have an agreement with the Congress this year -- I haven't
signed the law yet, but I'm pretty sure we got the deal done last week --
to increase the number of housing vouchers next year so we can keep doing

     But no matter how much we do that, there will still be large numbers
of people who live someplace different from where the jobs are, who want to
go to work, can go to work and are capable of doing whatever it takes to be
a qualified employee.

     So we can't continue with a system where people have to take three or
four buses to get to work or they can't get to work at all on public
transport, so they've got to get a friend or a family member to give them a
ride to work every day.  And a lot of you are nodding your heads.  You
know, what do you do if the friend or family members gets sick, what do you
do if their kids get sick, what do you do if your kid is sick?  There are a
lot of problems with this sort of ad hoc system.

     And we do have a lot of people, literally, who still can't get a job
because they can't get to the job.  That is inconsistent with our goal of
opportunity for every responsible citizen.  It's inconsistent with our
responsibilities as a national community to help each other go forward
together.  And it's inconsistent with helping people get off and stay off

     So from the beginning, in our administration, the Vice President and I
have worked with Congress to try to build transportation links to where the
jobs are.  Three years ago, we proposed something called the Job Access
initiative, and we worked with Congress and got a lot of support for it.
It basically gives grants to communities to figure out what the solution is
in their community, because it's different from place to place.  Last year,
we funded over $71 million worth of grants for 42 states and transit
authorities used this money to add new routes, to extend the hours of
existing routes -- which is a big problem in some places -- and also to
create van pools when there is no practical public transit option.

     They have brought work to the doorsteps already with this Job Access
initiative to the doorsteps of 13,500 employers which has enabled hundreds
of thousands of people to find new ways to get to work, take their kids to
school and expand their own horizons through trade and education.

     Last year, those grants went to six Colorado communities, almost
three-quarters of a million dollars to help them design and build
transportation links that connect workers to jobs.  Today, I'm here to
announce that this year, we're going to have $73 million in grants to 39
states and the District of Columbia; there will be three in Colorado and
one I hope will particularly benefit those of you who are here at Mi Casa,
$700,000 to extend bus routes in Denver -- (applause) -- that help people
travel to jobs at suburban business parks in the Denver tech center.

     Now, upstairs, one of the women asked me upstairs -- she said, you
need to do more to get women training and access to nontraditional jobs,
jobs that women don't normally hold.  And we talked about some things that
we've been doing with the unions to train more women to do
construction-related jobs -- like you, right?  (Laughter.)  Is that how you
hurt your arm?

     And we talked about the work you're trying to do in Silicon Valley and
other places to try to train more women to go to work in high-tech
industries where there is a huge gender gap in employment participation.
And we talked about really nontraditional things like the massive shortage
we've got in America for licensed truck drivers now, huge, huge shortages
all over America.

     Now, it's tough that you've got young kids because you've got to be
gone big chunks of time, so it's not a practical alternative for some.  But
for some people, it is an alternative.  They've got family circumstances,
there's nothing they can do.

     Our focus here today is to try to do what we can do to help
communities like Denver succeed even more and also to try to get other
communities to develop a model that you have that has worked so well.  You
simply can't go to work if you can't get to work; and now more and more
people will be able to find work, get there and either move off of welfare
or stay off welfare.

     Now, let me also say that we're entering the final weeks of the
congressional session.  We are already well past the end of the budget
year, which ended on September 30th.  And Congress all wants to come home
and campaign, but they have to finish their business first.

     And a lot of the business I think they ought to finish relates to the
needs of the people who have come through the doors of Mi Casa.  Congress
should raise the minimum wage -- (applause).  I had asked them to raise it
by a dollar an hour over the next two years.  That would have helped 10
million hardworking American families.  (Applause.)  I've also asked them
to provide more tax relief for working people to increase the child care
tax credit and make it refundable, to help give families a long-term care
tax credit.  A lot of people are caring for elderly or disabled family
members and they can't afford to go to nursing homes or they don't want
them to, but they need some help at home -- to get a tax deduction for the
cost of college tuition, and to help people even with very modest incomes
save for their own retirement.

     So there are very important things that can be done.  I think the
earned income tax credit, for which most of you with children are eligible,
which has lifted over 2 million people out of poverty just in the last few
years alone, should be expanded again, particularly for people with three
or more kids.  The way the earned income tax credit works, you max out if
you have a certain number of people.  But a lot of people have four kids
and five kids, that are tying to work, and I believe they should be able to
get more relief.  So that's all very important and I hope that will help.

     Something else that I think would be really helpful is that our budget
has proposals to promote responsible fatherhood and to increase child
support paid directly to families -- (applause.)  Now, if the states
collect your child support, they can withhold a portion of it because of
the cost of collecting it.  But if the child support is meager, you may not
wind up much ahead, even if the father is paying the child support.  So we
propose to change that.  I think there is very broad support for this and I
hope and believe it will pass before the Congress goes home.

     We also have proposals that would help families save and expand access
to child care and housing and health care.  So I hope very much that this
will pass.

     And, finally, let me say for the people who live where the jobs
aren't, there is a very important bipartisan initiative that I've worked on
with the Speaker of the House, called the New Markets initiative, which
would give American investors the same tax incentives to invest in the poor
areas in America we now give them to invest in poor areas in Latin America,
Africa, Asia or some place else.  (Applause.)

     I think that  a lot more can be done, but I hope and believe that this
transportation assistance will really help.

     So let me end where I began.  We are moving close to a country where
there really is opportunity for every responsible citizen.  But we're not
there yet.  We are a stronger American community than we were eight years
ago, but there is still friction and sources of division within our
American community.  Now, we've got the most expansive, strong economy
we've ever had.  And I think we ought to set our sights on big goals.

     Our goals should be prosperity for every family in every community
still left behind.  Our goals should be no child and no working family in
poverty.  And I want to say to you is that we can achieve these goals and
still keep the overall economy strong for the rest of America.  We can pay
the debt off in 12 years.  We've got to keep interest rates down, we'll
keep businesses expanding.  It will leave funds for people to make pay

     We can do this, but we have to decide to do it.  And I just hope that
not only in Colorado, but all over America, people will see and hear about
Mi Casa because of my trip here.  (Applause.)  And I hope every place where
people feel good because they've reduced the welfare rolls 40 or 50 percent
will understand that they can do much better when they see that Denver,
thanks to people like you, got it down 90 percent.  The transportation will
help, but people have to make the initiative at the local level, too.

     So thank you -- (applause.)

END                              12:15 P.M. MDT

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